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The Picture Of Dorian Gray Essay

1686 words - 7 pages

Many people influence our lives, shaping the way we act, talk, and even think. People can affect others in many positive ways; however, they can also corrupt the people around them. In Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Lord Henry influences Dorian Gray to the point where Dorian loses all respect, dignity, and integrity that he had and eventually leads him to experience his downfall. In William Shakespeare’s Othello, Iago clearly feels no allegiance to even one other character in the play yet he makes each feel as if he is his or her personal confidant and most trustworthy friend and advisor. Dorian Gray influences over unfortunate youths and leads them to their destruction. Finally, the society has a profound influence over Alan Campbell and Basil and they eventually meet their downfall due to the influence.
Dorian Gray’s downfall rests in his willingness to sacrifice himself to Lord Henry’s vision. When Lord Henry first meets Dorian Gray, he notices Dorian Gray’s beauty. Lord Henry tells Dorian that youth and beauty are the finest of all treasures, and they should be cherished and guarded because they quickly fade. Recollecting the words of Lord Henry, Dorian first recognizes the extraordinary beauty and youth in the portrait and then is pained by the thought of losing it. He envies the figure in the painting, and wishes, “If it were I who was to be always young, and the picture was to grow old! For that-for that- I would give everything!” (p.28) Lord Henry's words on youth and beauty influence Dorian to make this wish. His wish was granted and the painting will show his sins and his age while Dorian would remain young. As Dorian observes the portrait alter more each time he does something unpleasant, he realizes that he never feels the guilt that coincides with the evil act. This awareness causes Dorian to feel almost invincible because now he may do anything he pleases without paying for it later.
Through this, Wilde shows the dangers caused by Lord Henry’s influence. It also shows that the Dorian Gray's individualism is lost because he has no feelings of guilt as a result of having no consequences for his actions. Lord Henry continuously fill Dorian's mind with immoral ideas. After Sybil Vane's death, Lord Henry assures Dorian that Sybil's death was beautiful because "not one of the women I have known would have done for me what Sibyl Vane did for you" (p. 99). Dorian chooses not to be affected emotionally by her passing. From this instance of influence that Henry exercises over Dorian one can see that influence does not allow a person to act or think as themselves, but rather they act and think based on the words of others. One day Lord Henry gives Dorian a copy of the yellow book as a gift. Dorian bases his life and actions on guidelines established by Lord Henry and the yellow book. "For years, Dorian Gray could not free himself from the influence of this book" (p.123). The book represents the profound and damaging...

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